WO2009033216A1 - An interface element for a computer interface - Google Patents

An interface element for a computer interface Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2009033216A1
WO2009033216A1 PCT/AU2008/001342 AU2008001342W WO2009033216A1 WO 2009033216 A1 WO2009033216 A1 WO 2009033216A1 AU 2008001342 W AU2008001342 W AU 2008001342W WO 2009033216 A1 WO2009033216 A1 WO 2009033216A1
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Prior art keywords
region
interface element
object
displayed
method
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PCT/AU2008/001342
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French (fr)
Inventor
Trent Apted
Original Assignee
Smart Internet Technology Crc Pty Ltd
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Priority to AU2007904925 priority Critical
Priority to AU2007904925A priority patent/AU2007904925A0/en
Application filed by Smart Internet Technology Crc Pty Ltd filed Critical Smart Internet Technology Crc Pty Ltd
Publication of WO2009033216A1 publication Critical patent/WO2009033216A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/048Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI]
    • G06F3/0487Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser
    • G06F3/0488Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser using a touch-screen or digitiser, e.g. input of commands through traced gestures
    • G06F3/04883Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser using a touch-screen or digitiser, e.g. input of commands through traced gestures for entering handwritten data, e.g. gestures, text
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/048Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI]
    • G06F3/0481Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] based on specific properties of the displayed interaction object or a metaphor-based environment, e.g. interaction with desktop elements like windows or icons, or assisted by a cursor's changing behaviour or appearance
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/048Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI]
    • G06F3/0484Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] for the control of specific functions or operations, e.g. selecting or manipulating an object or an image, setting a parameter value or selecting a range
    • G06F3/0486Drag-and-drop
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/048Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI]
    • G06F3/0487Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser
    • G06F3/0488Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser using a touch-screen or digitiser, e.g. input of commands through traced gestures
    • G06F3/04886Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser using a touch-screen or digitiser, e.g. input of commands through traced gestures by partitioning the screen or tablet into independently controllable areas, e.g. virtual keyboards, menus
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06TIMAGE DATA PROCESSING OR GENERATION, IN GENERAL
    • G06T3/00Geometric image transformation in the plane of the image
    • G06T3/40Scaling the whole image or part thereof
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F2203/00Indexing scheme relating to G06F3/00 - G06F3/048
    • G06F2203/048Indexing scheme relating to G06F3/048
    • G06F2203/04806Zoom, i.e. interaction techniques or interactors for controlling the zooming operation

Abstract

The present invention provides method of manipulating a displayed object capable of interacting with an interface element of a computing interface. The computing interface has a display module for displaying the displayed object in a display area, and which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element and manipulating the displayed object according to the nature of the input received. The manipulation includes varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object, into, out-of, or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element.

Description

AN INTERFACE ELEMENT FOR A COMPUTER INTERFACE

Technical Field

The present invention relates generally to interfaces for computing systems and more particularly, but not exclusively, to a system, method and interface for manipulating objects on a computer interface.

Background of the Invention

Interactive desktop interfaces are known as part of current computer operating systems. In some computing applications it is desirable to have an interactive tabletop interface. An interactive tabletop interface allows for interaction with one or more users on a tabletop display. An interactive tabletop interface facilitates collaborative sharing of objects such as digital photographs by a number of users. Such an interface comprises an image which is projected onto the tabletop display. The image may be projected, for example, by use of an embedded screen or a data projector. One or more users may interact with the displayed image via an input of the interface in order to, for example, manipulate objects in the displayed image. Input to the interface is provided by, for example, a touch sensitive surface, of the tabletop onto which the image is projected. This form of computer interface facilitates so-called "pervasive" computing.

However, when many objects are displayed on a tabletop computer interface, the interface can become cluttered. This can prevent the user from readily interacting with the displayed objects and detract from the user's productivity. Summary of the Invention

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of manipulating a displayed object capable of interacting with an interface element of a computing interface, the computing interface having a display module for displaying the displayed object in a display area, and an input module for receiving a user input, said method comprising: receiving a user input which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element; manipulating the displayed object according to the nature of the input received, wherein the manipulation comprises varying the of the displayed object with the interface element.

In one embodiment size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object into, out -of, or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element.

In one embodiment the user input results in movement of the displayed object within the display area in a manner that results in interaction the user input directly moves the displayed object.

In one embodiment the user input causes the displayed object to move into, out -of, or through the region of the interface element .

In one embodiment the user input indirectly results in movement of the displayed object.

In one embodiment the user input causes the region of the interface element to be redefined within the display area which results in interaction of the interface element with the displayed object. In one embodiment redefining the region of the interface element is in the form of moving the region within the display area.

In one embodiment redefining the region of the interface element is in the form of resizing the region within the display area.

In one embodiment the user input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element- which results in interaction of the interface element with the displayed object.

In one embodiment the size of the object is varied according to the direction of movement through the region. Preferably the direction is a radial direction.

In one embodiment the size of the object is reduced as the object is moved towards the centre of the region. In one embodiment the size of the object is increased as the object is moved away from the centre of the region.

In one embodiment the method comprises manipulating a plurality of displayed objects according to the nature of the input received.

In one embodiment the influence further comprises varying the size of all displayed objects which move into, out-of, or through the region.

In one embodiment the influence further comprises moving all display objects located within the region along with the region when the region is moved.

In one embodiment the influence further comprises moving all display objects located within the region along with the region when the region is moved, unless the region encounters a prohibited zone of the display area, in which case the region is prevented from entering the prohibited zone and the display objects continue to move according to the received input .

In one embodiment the manipulation further comprises causing all displayed objects in the region to move towards the centre of the region when the user input signifies activation of an manipulation property of the interface element.

In one embodiment the manipulation further comprises causing all displayed objects in the display area to move towards the centre of the region when the user input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element.

In one embodiment the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects having a selected property to move towards the centre of the region when the user input signifies activation of an manipulation property of the interface element .

In one embodiment the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects that reach the centre of the region to be hidden.

In one embodiment the manipulation is to cause all displayed objects in the region to move away from the centre of the region when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element .

In one embodiment the manipulation is to cause all displayed objects in the display area to move away from the centre of the region when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element .

In one embodiment the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects having a selected property to move away from the centre of the region when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element .

In one embodiment the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects within the region to be deleted when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element.

In one embodiment the influence further comprises causing displayed objects within the region to be resized when the received input signifies resizing of the interface element. Preferably the resizing of the objects is of the same type and/or proportion as the resizing of the interface element. In an embodiment the resizing of the object is in proportion to the size of the region of the interface element.

In one embodiment the manipulation further comprises causing hidden displayed objects within the region to be shown when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element.

In one embodiment a representation of the interface element is displayed within the region. In one embodiment the representation is of a black hole.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer readable storage medium storing a computer program for manipulation a displayed object in a display area that interacts with an interface element of a computing interface, said computer program comprising instructions that when executed by a computer cause the computer to: receive a user input which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element; manipulating the displayed object according to the nature of the input received, wherein the manipulation comprises varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object into, out -of, or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element.

According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided an apparatus for manipulation a displayed object that interacts with an interface element of a computing interface, said apparatus comprising: a display having a display area; an user input ; a processor configured to: receive a user input which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element; manipulating the displayed object according to the nature of the input received, wherein the manipulation comprises varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object into, out -of , or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided an apparatus for manipulating displayed objects that interacts with an interface element of a computing interface, said apparatus comprising: a display having a display area; an user input ; means for receiving a user input which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element; means for manipulating the displayed object according to the nature of the input received, wherein the manipulation comprises varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object into, out-of, or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element.

According to a fifth aspect of the present invention there is provided an interface element for a computing interface having a display module for creating a display covering a display area and an input module for receiving a user input, said element comprising: an interface element interaction module for designating certain user input that causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element as interface element input; an object manipulation module for manipulating objects in the display according to the nature of the input received when an interface element input is received, wherein the manipulation module is configured to vary the size of displayed objects that the input signifies as moving a displayed object into, out-of or through the region.

Brief Description of the Drawings V

In order to provide a better understanding of the present invention, preferred embodiments will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 is a schematic of a computing system arranged to provide an interface element in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

Fig. 2 is a screen shot of an interface displaying the interface element, according to an embodiment the present invention. Detailed Description

An aspect of the present invention provides a new interface element for reducing screen clutter on a computer interface. In the embodiment described herein, the computer interface is displayed on a surface-mount display provided by a tabletop computing system. The interface element operates to manipulate or influence objects displayed on the interface based on a user input. In an embodiment, manipulating the object comprises varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in the object being moved into, out of, or through a region of the display associated with the interface element. For example, where a user of the tabletop computer wants to focus their attention on one of ten objects (e.g. a digital photograph) presently displayed on the user interface, they may drag any one or more of the other nine objects towards the interface element to effectively minimize their size.

To carry out the aforementioned functionality and with reference to Fig. 1, the tabletop computer 102 comprises computer hardware including a motherboard 110, central processing unit 112, random access memory 114, hard disk 116 and networking hardware 118. The tabletop computer 102 also includes a display 109 in the form of a projector which projects an image (i.e. the user interface) onto a tabletop surface. The tabletop computer 102 also includes an input module 111 for receiving a user input from an input device. Using the input device, users of the tabletop computer manipulate objects displayed on the user interface.

In addition to the hardware, the tabletop computer 102 includes an operating system (such as the Microsoft Windows™ XP operating system, which is produced and licenced by Microsoft Corporation) that resides on the hard disk and which co-operates with the hardware to provide an environment in which the software applications can be executed. In this regard, the hard disk 116 of the tabletop computer 102 is loaded with a display module for controlling a video output device which displays the user interface .

In the embodiment described herein, the objects are in the form of digital photographs, but it will be appreciated that other objects, such as text files, or computer generated graphical images could equally be displayed and manipulated. In an embodiment, input to the interface 111 is provided by a touch sensitive surface of the tabletop onto which the image is projected.

In the embodiment described herein, the objects are in the form of digital images displayable on the tabletop. The images may colloquially be referred to as "photographs" . The photographs are displayed as rectangular objects within the display area. Photographs can be moved across the tabletop by mimicking a "dragging" motion with a pointer, such as a finger, pen, stylus or cursor. The touch of the pointer is received by the input device and interpreted as an input. The photographs can be manipulated in other ways, such as, for example, moving, rotating and resizing, depending on the input.

If many photographs are displayed, the display area can become cluttered. This can detract from the productivity of the user. The embodiment therefore provides an interface element which can λhold' objects not currently required by the user. The held objects are resized to assist in reducing clutter. Furthermore one embodiment of the invention allows the interface element to temporarily remove photographs from the display area. In a further embodiment they can be permanently deleted. Referring to Fig. 2, there is shown a screen shot of a tabletop computer user interface 210 displaying the interface element 212, pictorially represented and hereafter referred to as a black hole. The black hole is typically circular in shape, as such a shape is instantly recognisable to a user. However, it will be understood that the black hole may take any suitable form. The black hole 212 forms part of the interface. The black hole 212 has a region of influence, which is part of the user interface 210. Objects 214 (such as the photographs) that enter into the region of influence or move within the region are affected by influence characteristics of the black hole 212. The black hole 212 comprises a centre portion 218 and a periphery 220, which divide up the region of influence. In one embodiment the centre portion has one type of influence and the periphery has another type of influence on objects in the region, depending on whether the object is in (or touches) the centre portion or is in (or touches) the periphery (without touching the centre portion) .

Objects 214 moving in the periphery 220 automatically have their size changed according to whether the user input moves them towards or away from the centre of the black hole. The resizing is immediate and in proportion to the movement in order to give real-time feedback to the user input which cause the object to be moved. In particular when the object moves towards the centre it is reduced in size and when it moves away from the centre it is enlarged. This continuous feedback gives the appearance of the photograph being "sucked into" the black hole, or "spat out" of the black hole, depending on the direction of movement.

In an embodiment the centre portion hides objects moved within it. In another embodiment, objects that touch the centre portion are deleted from the display. The centre portion may be the geometric centre point of the black hole, or it may be a (small) central area.

Fig. 2 schematically shows use of the black hole 212 in which a photograph 214 has been selected as indicated by finger shaped cursor pointer 216 and is being moved towards the centre of black hole 212. The black hole affects the displayed size of the object by reducing the size of the photograph as it moves towards the centre of hole. This assists in controlling clutter of the tabletop interface 210, as photographs that are currently not being used can be moved out of the way or deleted.

The interface displays objects by maintaining in memory the position of the objects, their scale and their orientation within the display. The display is repeatedly redrawn using a graphics API, such as OpenGL. Each time the display is redrawn, OpenGL draws a texture for that object, as well as decorations, at the correct position and orientation. When interaction occurs, the interface determines which object was selected, and where on the object the selection occurred.

The interface then determines in what way the input manipulates the selected object. This includes determining whether and how the input causes the selected object to be moved. The interface element determines whether the movement of the object causes it to be affected by the black hole. See Appendix A as an example of instructions (in the form of C++ code) for implementing this. Alternatively if the black hole is selected the interface element determines whether the manipulation of the black hole affects other objects.

In Fig. 2 it can be seen that the user has touched the tabletop or screen (or used a cursor directed by a mouse, track ball or other input device) over the object 214 and has dragged the object into the region of influence of the black hole. The finger pointer 216 moves closer to the centre of the black hole, rather than the centre of the object moving closer. The centre of the object just travels with the movement of the pointer. The black hole has recognised that the input has caused the object to move within this region of influence and has caused the object to be diminished in size as it moves. If it reaches the centre portion the photograph becomes hidden. See for example Appendix B below.

Photographs that are placed in the periphery of the black hole can be recovered by simply selecting them and dragging them out. This will cause them to be enlarged back to the size before they were influenced by the black hole .

If the 'back hole is resized the photographs within the region of influence change their size inverse proportionally. In one embodiment this is due to the scaled size of the object in the region of influence being shrunk in proportion to the size of the black hole, thus as the black hole is reduced in size its shrinking effect on the object diminishes. Thus another method to remove photographs from the black hole is to reduce the black hole size, such that photographs within the black hole grow in size and can be selected and dragged out from the region of influence of the black hole.

Objects that are placed in the region of influence of the black hole become attached. In other words, if the black hole is moved, then the objects move with the black hole .

Algorithms are employed to determine layering of photographs around the black hole. One algorithm keeps objects in the black hole as it is moved and another algorithm determines the size of objects within the region of influence based on the size of the image, the size of the black hole and the Euclidean distance between the centres of the each image and the black hole.

Another way of removing objects from the black hole is for the user to attempt to move the black hole into a zone of the display area in which the black hole is prohibited from entering, such as a personal space. Even though the black hole cannot be moved into the personal space, the objects stuck to the black hole can enter the space and will be dragged out as the user continues to move the pen/stylus etc. Thus the black hole gets stuck on the border of personal space, while the photographs are moved into the personal space.

When the user holds a selected position on the black hole, this can activate one or more manipulations of black hole. In one embodiment the manipulation characteristic causes all the objects in the region of influence to be permanently deleted. In a further embodiment, the manipulation characteristic may also cause other images on the tabletop to move continuously towards black hole providing an appearance of "gravity" . One such other manipulation characteristic is to have images within a black hole move radially and other images on the tabletop to move away from the black hole, providing an appearance of "anti-gravity" . Another is for the gravity to only affect objects with specifics characteristics. Various other manipulation characteristics will be readily apparent to the person skilled in the field invention. Such manipulation characteristics provide the user with intuitive feedback.

In some embodiments the continuous movement occurs at a constant velocity. In another embodiment the continuous movement accelerates, while the input is active. The objects may then be given "virtual momentum" and subjected to "virtual friction" as described below in relation to "flicking" . In an embodiment the continuous movement is along a tangent to the central region of the black hole. In an embodiment the velocity of the movement for each object is proportional to the inverse of the distance between the centre points of the black hole and the object.

Objects on the tabletop may be subjected to "flicking". Flicking provides an object with an associated momentum, which is counteracted by a virtual frictional force. (Flicking is described in: Margaret R. Minsky. Manipulating simulated objects with real -world gestures using a force and position sensitive screen. SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics, 18 (3) : 195-203, 1984. ISSN 0097-8930. doi: http://doi.acm.org/l0.1145/964965.808598 which is incorporated herein by reference) .

When an image is flicked in the direction of a black hole and it encounters the region of influence, a virtual gravitational force can be simulated, which causes the object to accelerate towards the centre portion of the black hole. The algorithm employed maintains the momentum of the object and applies acceleration towards the centre of the black hole. The algorithm can closely model the physics of gravity to maintain a realistic feedback to the actions of the user. Thus, the object does not simply disappear, but rather, as the object hits the black hole, it will spiral inwards towards the centre of the black hole.

It is possible for the object to remain in an ongoing orbit. However, the algorithm can have a term included, such that when the component -wise change in velocity is in the opposite direction to the velocity, the acceleration towards the centre is increased. This causes the path of objects to favour spiralling in towards the centre of the black hole, even where the object was not intently aimed directly towards the centre. As an object encounters the centre portion it is captured and hidden. Thus an image can be flicked generally towards the black hole, and it will be sucked into the black hole even if the aim is not entirely accurate. In other words, the object need not be directed to the central region as long as it encounters the region of influence it will be drawn in. This can allow a user to delete an object even if the back hole is not within reach. See for example Appendix C & D.

If the flick of the object is too hard and the object has sufficient momentum, the object will pass the black hole without being drawn into the black hole. This can result in a gravitational slingshot effect. However, further modifications can be made to the algorithm to prevent sling-shotting.

In one embodiment black holes are prevented from being flicked. That is, they will not gain momentum, even though the object can be moved across the tabletop. Once the black hole is released, it will simply stop where it was released. However, objects within the black hole can maintain momentum. Therefore, when the black hole stops, objects within it can keep moving by virtue of their momentum and with thus fall out of the black hole. Alternatively objects within the black hole can maintain stationary inertia and thus when the black hole is moved too quickly the objects tend to move less quickly and will fall out of the black hole.

For each on-screen object (including the black hole object) the following is maintained: • (x, y, z) position of the centre of the object, in "world" coordinates (z determines the order objects may be drawn) • (x, y) position of the touch point, in "object" coordinates, if an object is being moved o "object" coordinates extend from [- aspect, -0.5] to [aspect, 0.5] on each object • s, the desired scale of an object, changeable by performing a rotate/resize operation on the object

• userLock, the identifier of the user moving an object or "NO__USER" For objects other than the black hole, the following s calculated on each screen redraw:

• bhd, the most recently determined "distance" from the black hole, calculated as

Figure imgf000017_0001
where d is the square of the Euclidean distance between the centre of the black hole and the object and s is the current scale of the black hole; o An object is said to be in central portion of the black hole when bhd < 1.0 o The periphery of the black hole is the circular area around the black hole where bhd < 1.0

For objects other than the black hole, the following calculations are made:

• residual, an indication of whether an object has been moved into and subsequently released in the periphery of the black hole, and the value of bhd when that occurred (residual_bhd) o if an object enters the periphery of a black hole other than by a move (or if the black hole itself was moved such that its periphery encompasses the centre of an object) then its residual_phd is 1.0

When an object is in central portion of the black hole, the displayed scale is altered (after processing the desired scale) as follows:

• the displayed scale is reduced by a factor of bhdxresidual_bhd • in addition, if the object is currently being moved (i.e. it is being touched), the "centre" of the scale operation is not the centre of the object (i.e. the point (0,0) in object coordinates) , but is instead the touch point, so that when the object is rescaled, the object coordinates of the touch point remain unchanged

There is a transformation from world coordinates to screen coordinates in order to display an object.

Two notions of layering are used to determine the final draw order of objects - z-coordinate and layer. Objects drawn last will be shown occluding any objects below it, unless parts of the object are partially or wholly transparent. The black hole, for example, is transparent around its edges, opaque in the centre, with a transparency gradient between. The z coordinate of the object determines the final draw order (objects are drawn in order of decreasing z coordinate) .

Whenever an object is selected, it is given the lowest z coordinate of any object in the same layer, thus it appears on top of those objects. Special objects, such as the black hole, are given a higher layer. Thus, the black hole is always shown on top of other objects and it is never obscured.

Objects can be flipped over; as if they were physical photographs placed on the table. In the touch interface, this was accomplished by for example placing two fingers on the image, one each in adjacent photo corners, and then dragging the fingers across the image to flip it. Alternative flipping techniques can also be employed, such as selecting a "hot spot" (for example triangles superimposed on the corner of each object) and dragging it over the rest of the image .

The technique for flipping an object is shown in Appendix E to H. They take as arguments the (x, y) pixel coordinate on screen that is the current "control point" used for the flip, e.g. the location of the stylus or finger. The first step is to convert this to object coordinates using the cached inverse transformation matrices used to position the object being flipped in the virtual environment (but before any flipping rotation transformation took place in the draw procedure) . The x coordinate is normalised to make it comparable with the y coordinate (i.e. they are given equal weighting to determine the initial direction to flip) .

If the flip has not already begun, the direction (xflip) is determined as the direction with the larger component (i.e. most distant from the centre of the image) . And it is a "reverse" flip if we are to the left of centre for a horizontal flip, or below centre for a vertical flip. The distance to flip (dist) is twice the position component (as points initially extend from ~0.5 to 0.5), so dist lies in the range [-1.0,1.0] . The angle to flip is the arccosine of the dist. We maintain state to continue a flip in the "same" direction once initiated, and to determine whether we are flipping to the reverse side, or back to the "front" side. The flipping of the image itself occurs in the draw procedure.

If the object flipped is the black hole the hidden contents of the black hole can be displayed. This allows the user to select and drag objects out of the black hole.

The flipping technique described above is the subject of a related Australian provisional patent application entitled "A System and Method for Manipulating Digital Images on a Computer Display" filed in the name of Smart Internet Technology CRC Pty Ltd, and accorded provisional filing number AU2007 904927, which is incorporated herein by reference.

EXAMPLE

Consider the following- scenario : a user plugs their digital camera into a computer loaded with an interface in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. It holds a large number of photos taken from a recent holiday, so an object containing thumbnails for the photos is loaded. Sometimes, the thumbnail is insufficient quality to judge whether an image is the one desired to discuss, or to decide between two closely related photos. Dragging a thumbnail off the object causes a higher- quality copy of the thumbnail to be created. However, the user decides that they no longer need this copy, so they wish to delete it .

On a traditional computing interface, the user might drag the icon to a "Trash Can" or "Recycle Bin" , but in a virtual environment, this has a number of problems. The "trash" is usually located at a fixed position on the display. On a physically large virtual interface, a user might not be able to reach the location of the object, and so they may wish to flick the object in the direction of the trash; alternatively they may wish to move the trash object around the environment. There may be multiple users and the "trash" may only be oriented or easily accessible by a single user. Opening the trash to retrieve something is impractical on a tabletop computing system, particularly where an interface is designed to be intuitive to users not familiar with standard computer conventions. Offering a confirmation dialogue to confirm deletion, or a context menu to move an item to trash is also impractical. The trash may be obscured and an inexperienced user may inadvertently move an item over the trash, accidentally deleting it. An object may be displayed on a screen much larger than the "trash" object, and without a mouse cursor, it might not be clear how to indicate that something should be moved to the trash. The user may also wish to partially hide the image without deleting the image.

To delete a photograph/image (i.e. an object) using the black hole, the user drags the object (e.g. with a finger or stylus) towards the black hole. Once the user's finger (i.e. not the centre of the image; regardless of where it was touched) is within the influence of the black hole (bhd < 1.0) the object begins to reduce in size. As the user's finger gets closer to the centre of the black hole, the object gets smaller, until it can no longer be seen at the centre of the black hole. Alternatively, if the user notices the reduction in size, and decides they do not actually want to delete/hide the object, they can take it back out immediately.

The user may also wish to move the black hole. They do this simply by dragging it - the black hole and all its contents (including items on its periphery or fringes, which may still be visible) are moved to the new location, maintaining their relative positions. As the black hole moves, objects which come near the black hole are affected, if their centres enter the fringe. If the black hole is then released, the objects influenced by the black hole are "captured" by the black hole, allowing the black hole to be used in a manner akin to a vacuum cleaner on the virtual environment .

After being released into the black hole, objects can be retrieved. Techniques for this vary, depending on the distance "into" the Black hole the image is placed. If the object is on the fringe of the black hole, the object may be able to be moved out, provided some of the object "pokes out" from underneath the black hole. If no part of the object sticks out, the black hole may be made smaller, decreasing its effect on the object (i.e. as the black hole scale, s, is reduced, bhd becomes larger) . When the object on the fringe becomes larger, and can then be moved away. However, a limit may be imposed on how small the black hole can be made. If an object is very near the black hole centre, it can be retrieved by moving the black hole to a "dumping ground" such as a personal space, where the black hole is not allowed to travel. Alternatively, repeatedly flicking the black hole can cause the images within the black hole to be left behind.

Although not required, the embodiments described with reference to the Figures can be implemented via an application programming interface (API) or as a series of libraries, for use by a developer, and can be included within another software application, such as a terminal or personal computer operating system or a portable computing device operating system. Generally, as program modules include routines, programs, objects, components, and data files that perform or assist in the performance of particular functions, it will be understood that the functionality of the software application may be distributed across a number of routines, objects and components to achieve the same functionality as the embodiment and the broader invention claimed herein. Such variations and modifications are within the purview of those skilled in the art. It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

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Claims

1. A method of manipulating a displayed object capable of interacting with an interface element of a computing interface, the computing interface having a display module for displaying the displayed object in a display area, and an input module for receiving a user input, said method comprising : receiving a user input which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element ; manipulating the displayed object according to the nature of the input received, wherein the manipulation comprises varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object into, out -of, or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element.
2. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the user input results in movement of the displayed object within the display area in a manner that results in interaction of the displayed object with the interface element.
3. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein the user input directly moves the displayed object.
4. A method as claimed in claim 3, wherein the user input causes the displayed object to move into, out -of, or through the region of the . interface element.
5. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein the user input indirectly results in movement of the displayed object .
6. A method as claimed in either claim 1 or 2 , wherein the user input causes the region of the interface element to be redefined within the display area which results in interaction of the interface element with the displayed object .
7. A method as claimed in claim 6, wherein redefining the region of the interface element is in the form of moving the region within the display area.
8. A method as claimed in claim 6, wherein redefining the region of the interface element is in the form of resizing the region within the display area.
9. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the user input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element which results in interaction of the interface element with the displayed object.
10. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein the size of the object is varied according to the direction of movement through the region.
11. A method as claimed in claim 10, wherein the direction is a radial direction.
12. A method as claimed in claim 11, wherein the size of the object is reduced as the object is moved towards the centre of the region.
13. A method as claimed in claim 11, wherein the size of the object is increased as the object is moved away from the centre of the region.
14. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 13, wherein the method comprises manipulating a plurality of displayed objects according to the nature of the input received.
15. A method as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises varying the size of all displayed objects which move into, out-of, or through the region.
16. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises moving all display objects located within the region along with the region when the region is moved.
17. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises moving all display objects located within the region along with the region when the region is moved, unless the region encounters a prohibited zone of the display area, in which case the region is prevented from entering the prohibited zone and the display objects continue to move according to the received input.
18. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises causing all displayed objects in the region to move towards the centre of the region when the user input signifies activation of an influence property of the interface element.
19. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises causing all displayed objects in the display area to move towards the centre of the region when the user input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element .
20. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects having a selected property to move towards the centre of the region when the user input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element .
21. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects that reach the centre of the region to be hidden.
22. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation is to cause all displayed objects in the region to move away from the centre of the region when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element.
23. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation is to cause all displayed objects in the display area to move away from the centre of the region when the received input signifies activation of an manipulation property of the interface element.
24. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects having a selected property to move away from the centre of the region when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element .
25. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects within the region to be deleted when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element .
26. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises causing displayed objects within the region to be resized when the received input signifies resizing of the interface element. Preferably the resizing of the objects is of the same type and/or proportion as the resizing of the interface element. In an embodiment the resizing of the object is in proportion to the size of the region of the interface element .
27. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the manipulation further comprises causing hidden displayed objects within the regi'on to be shown when the received input signifies activation of a manipulation property of the interface element.
28. A method as claimed any one of claims 1 to 27, wherein a representation of the interface element is displayed within the region.
29. A computer readable storage medium storing a computer program for manipulating, a displayed object in a display area that interacts with an interface element of a computing interface, said computer program comprising instructions that when executed by a computer cause the computer to: receive a user input which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element; manipulate the displayed object according to the nature of the input received, wherein the manipulation comprises varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object into, out-of, or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element .
30. An apparatus for manipulating a displayed object that interacts with an interface element of a computing interface, said apparatus comprising: a display having a display area; an user input ; a processor configured to: receive a user input which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element; influence the displayed object according to the nature of the input received, wherein the manipulation comprises varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object into, out -of, or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element.
31. An apparatus for manipulating displayed objects that interacts with an interface element of a computing interface, said apparatus comprising: a display having a display area; an user input ; means for receiving a user input which causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element; means for manipulating the displayed object according to the nature of the input received, wherein the manipulation comprises varying the size of the displayed object when the received input results in movement of the displayed object into, out-of, or through a region of the display area designated as belonging to the interface element.
32. An interface element for a computing interface having a display module for creating a display covering a display area and an input module for receiving a user input, said element comprising: an interface element interaction module for designating certain user input that causes the displayed object to interact with the interface element as interface element input; an object manipulating module for manipulating objects in the display according to the nature of the input received when an interface element input is received, wherein the manipulation module is configured to vary the size of displayed objects that the input signifies as moving a displayed object into, out-of or through the region.
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